Summer Learning That Isn’t a Drag

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Report cards just came out and summer has officially begun.  Last year I had lofty ideas about all of the summer learning we’d do; about the things I’d engage in with my kids to help them develop their literacy and numeracy skills all summer long.  But time at the playground, sleeping in, and day trips quickly took priority over practicing and they both backslid a little skill-set wise (before entering senior kindergarten.)

While I don’t have any regrets about how I spent my summer vacation with my children, I do want to do better this year. They are going into grade one next year and I want them to have every edge possible once they leave their play based education behind and officially enter “the big kid yard.”  The difference I’ve seen in their abilities over the past three months in terms of their printing and reading, as well as counting and basic math has been enormous, and I want to keep the momentum going.  I also want to keep things fun – it is summer vacation after all.

Here are some fun, age appropriate things that parents can do this summer to help their kids continue their education going all summer long.  Just because a suggestion is in a particular age category, doesn’t mean that it won’t work for certain children, so feel free to apply the items based on your individual child’s needs, skillsets and interests. The best part about these games and activities is that none of these will feel like chores.  Here are some recommendations so that summer learning isn’t a drag.

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Kids Ages 4-6

  • Find a book series they love and make it a part of your bed time routine. We’ve added two book series to read in entirety over the summer (This summer we’re reading the entire Captain Underpants Series and Ivy and Bean series).
  • Going on vacation? Have them send post cards to one or two special people to help them practice their penmanship.
  • Get some picture or number based dominoes and start playing.
  • Take a bi-weekly trip to your local used book store, library, or lending library to keep the stories you read fresh and interesting.
  • Remember Snakes and Ladders and Go Fish? Both are age-appropriate games you can enjoy together.
  • Buy sidewalk chalk and use it!
  • Label drawings that they do together. Note: It doesn’t matter what they’re writing as long as they’re writing. Last night my son and I wrote a scathing letter to bad guy Thanos (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame), but he was printing and loving every minute of it!

 

Kids Ages 6-10

  • Break out the old school board games from when you were a child. Uno, Yahtzee and other games can help promote counting and math skills.
  • Go geocaching or on a nature scavenger hunt to help your children practice reading and navigation skills.
  • Road trip? Have them help you play the license plate game and keep track of all of the states and provinces you see on your journey.
  • Buy them comics and have them read them before you check out the movie version of the story.
  • Help them create their own comic books based on their favourite characters.
  • Play BINGO for some fun prizes (some kids aged 4-6 may also be able to enjoy this and you can even try some sight word BINGO).
  • Play Ad-libs together for some silly fun.
  • Play miniature golf and have them keep score.
  • Pull the comics out of the paper for them to read.
  • Buy some word searches and jumbles.
  • Teach them to play chess with you.
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Tweens & Teens

  • Tell them if they read the book, you’ll pay for their ticket to the movie version of the story.
  • Have them read a favourite book of yours from when you were their age (then you read one of their favourites).
  • Play a spirited game of Scrabble.
  • Get them magazine subscriptions of their choosing.
  • Go on a road trip and let them navigate for you.
  • Work on crossword puzzles together.
  • Attend a play together, but have them read it first.

What would you add to the list?  Please feel free to provide suggestions in the comments below.

Remember: No matter what you have planned this summer, remember to have fun together and to enjoy each other’s company.  School will be back in session before you know it!

Sara is a freelance writer, award winning parenting blogger, and public relations specialist from Toronto, Canada. She is mother to fraternal girl/boy twins, loves music, hiking, and offbeat pop culture.
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